A Travellerspoint blog

Bolivia

Lake Titicaca

Between Bolivia and Peru lies the highest lake in the world called Lake Titicaca. We decided to go visit it on the way to Peru but to see it from the Bolivian side where you stay in a town called Copacabana and take boats onto the Island from here. We are really positively suprised by Copacabana. It is small but really cosy and has a really laid back and hippiish feeling to it. We stay in a hotel right at the shore of the lake which has fab views of the lake from our bed room. That night we have the nicest trout ever- seriously good food and would stay longer in Copacabana just for the fish.

Next morning we take a boat over to Isla del Sol which is one of the Islands on Copacabana. it is possible the the most uncomfortable and crammed boat ever which does not bode well for Martin who really suffers from motion sickness. Boat ride takes like three hours and the scenery is fab. When we arrive we are told that we have two options- we can either walk from one side to he Island to the other or catch the boat from the same spot in the afternoon. We decide to do the walk which takes 3 or 4 hours. The day is fab and on the way across the Island we see Inca sites, loads of animals (donkeys, pigs- huge and tiny ones, sheep ect.- might not sound too exciting but really was cool to literally bump into all these animals) and met a lot of locals on the way. The most important thing was the scenery which is amazing. As with everything one really has to be there to see it for oneself.

Despite the altitude it was a scorching day hence the Josef and Maria headgear on the pictures (thanks Daniel) and the walk was a pretty tough one. Although as we will be about to discover as we do other treks really a piece of cake. As we arrive to the south side of the island we are pretty tired but have a nice picnic by the water. On the way back the boat takes us to see some floationg island which Lake Titicaca is famous for. Basically whole villages, boats, tables...everything are built of reeds and they live on them as they float on the water. Incredible. Unfortunately the ones we vistied were totally turisty and tiny and there were jjust there for show so a bait disappointing. However, if you visit Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side it is possible to visit the genuine floating islands and you can stay over on them.

Floating Islands...
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Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem :)
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Sunset over Isla de Sol..
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Posted by kmandmc 16:44 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

In prison in La Paz

So one of the must do things in La Paz is to visit the prison out of the book Marching Powder. It is illegal to go officially but everyone goes and it is supposed to be a real experience so we thought why the heck not. We decided to go on New Years day (very hungover) and you basically go and stand outside the prison until someone comes up and asks if you want to go in. A lady approaches us and we follow her...sign in with the very scary looking security guards and she brings us in to meet her husband Jack form South Africa and Sebastian from Holland. We are brought into their little apartment and it is completely bizzare as we are sitting there in their home hanging out with two prisoners who are very nice but very coked out. Thing is that in this prison the prisoners live with their families who come in and out all day and although it is not official. Coke is big business in there and a lot of prisoners are visibly high. All visitors are offered to do coke in there but we politely declined...Although the word is a huge amount of tourists jump at the opportunity to do cheap coke in the prison. It is a mental experience enough but to try drugs there is just mad. But hey all to their own. We get a tour of the prisons church, gym, school shops ect and all while kids are playing all around us...We finish up in their "house" where we listen to their stories which although interesting were all over the place. They were quite upset we were not in there to party but after politely declining the offer of coke for the 11th time we left. It was a really interesting experience and would not have wanted to miss it but so weird and pretty sad. When the prison doors closed behind us we were relieved to be on the other side again. Not sure if we would ever want to pay to go into prison again.....

Posted by kmandmc 14:30 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

La Paz

Death Road - La Paz - Happy New Year!!

overcast 23 °C

When in La Paz it is highly recommended to cycle down the worlds most dangerous road. We did this and it was brilliant. It was extremely dangerous in parts but the scenery, the speeds you reached and the all round fun of it all made it well worth while. It was approximately 80km downhill. You descend from about 4000m to 1000m in about 3 hours.

Before the death road...

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K powering through a river...
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The trip finished in a small town where every rests and takes a beer or two. Due to the fact it is rainy season it meant the roads were a little more treacherous than usual. Our vans got stuck behind a landslide which blocked the roads so we were left stranded for a couple of hours. We made our own fun! A football was sourced and we played ball for a couple of hours. It should be noted that a predominantly Irish (if you count Karolina as Irish too) were the over all winners over the Argies.

Eventually we were picked up. Most people were brought up to the small town of Coroico in a pickup. Not very safe but everyone was fine. We were lucky enough to get a taxi. Food and drink was provided in a lovely hotel that overlooked the valley, hotel esmeralda I think was the name of it. We arrived home about 6 hours later than scheduled but it was worth it. Although it was in a cramped hiace van it was a bit of a nightmare journey home. I think all journeys in Bolivia will come with a new tail of treacherous experiences. It was all in all a great experience!!!

The Bolivian Flag....
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La Paz:
While in La Paz we were staying in the Wild Rover. It was a great hostel with a great bar and the cleanest jacks in all of Bolivia! We spent New Years here too. Total blast. Hungover for two days though. Being the cultural creatures that we are we never bothered to visit any museums or anything like that (again). We simply roamed the streets and admired the hustle and bustle of La Paz. La Paz was a great city, it is like one giant market but a great experience.

Lake Titicaca and Copacobana next....then Peru!

Posted by kmandmc 10:08 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Sucre

Travel Belly

sunny 28 °C

Sucre is a beautiful colonial town where we decided to stay and re-charge the batteries. We stayed in a lovely hotel called hotel parador. It was a bit flashy for us backpackers but the luxury they offered was much welcomed.

Unfortunately both of us came down with some "travel belly" so our escapades were limited in this town. We spent most of our time wandering the city and just enjoying the laid back atmosphere that it offered.

A nice view of the city and Karolina´s head....
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Posted by kmandmc 09:53 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

White Xmas at the Salar de Uyuni

It was salt, not snow...

8 °C

Met our group early in the morning at the agency. Turns out there will be five of us. Apart from myself and Martin there is Madeleine from Holland who is travelling on her own and Oded and Israela from Israel. Our jeep looks really old and is very dirty so initially wondering how the hell it will make 4 days.....

Meet driver/guide/doctor/mechanic/fotographer Javier (we will soon realise how true all these things are) and his wife Laeticia (cook) and they brought their nearly 3 year old daughter with them on the trip (her first time). Cute as a button she is. They initially seem lovely but over time we realise how fantastic these people really are. Absolutely amazing and we will soon realise how lucky we are to get them as our guides.

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First day is mainly spent driving trough an amazing landscape off rocky mountains and driving along steep drops on either side of the road. We are immediately amazed by the lanscape- like nothing we have ever seen before! The roads are mental and we soon figure out what four by four driving really is about. Javier is such a skillful driver and we feel very safe despite the ridiculous conditions of the roads. We are told that altitude sickness might be a problem as we will end up at 4300 meters above water where we will spend the night. Martin who had expereinced altitude sickness in Ecuador before already started complaining about feeling funny as soon as we arrived in Bolivia and K laughed at him. She would no longer be laughing as she was about to expereince it big time. While Martin ended up being relatively ok K got it very bad. Imagine the worst headache you have ever had- multiply it by 100 and add a feeling of your worst hangover stomach. When we arrived at our veery simple accomodation K could not move and thought she would die. Enter Javier the doctor.....we were given Cocoa tea (yes the leaves that cocaine are made off- very big in Bolivia where they all chew them), and other herbal remedies. This coupled with neurofen and altitude sickness tablets just about knocked K off while the rest of the gang played cards and had a laugh for the night. Althoug none were unaffected by the altitude.....

Next day woke at 4.30 am and we all felt better if not perfect. Spent the day driving thorough amazing landscape. It got to be the most beautiful county in the world! Saw villages in the middle of nowhere, others abondoned for hundreds of years. Mountains and deserts with all the colours that one can imagine and then some. We stopped to bath in natural springs....really cool. Also ended up getting a puncture and got our first taste of how skillful mechanic Javier was. Although methods were unconventional (see pictures). Later on that night jeep gets serious problems as fuel pump stops working. We end up driving with a hose hanging from the petrol tank on the roof into the engine (mental). It is unbeleivable that Javier fixes it....he is brilliant. He even sucks the petrol out of the tank with is mouth to get some pressure out....Two hours later we are on our way! We drive through some amazing deserts that day. Salvador Dali was inspired by it and you find yourself looking at his paintings only way more beautiful. Because of our car problems we reach oour accomodation late that evening- starving and wrecked! This time it is shared by two other groups one of which is in a party mood and get absolutely hammered and won´t let anyone else sleep that night. We are up at six the next day!

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Xmas eve (k´s xmas)! We begin by going to lake Colorado first thing. The lake is pink from minerals in the ground and is filled with flamencos (they are pink because they eat pink bacteria from the waters). It is amazing looking at these birds and the sourroundings again are unbelieveable. The day is filled with looking at amazing lagoons of all colours you can imagine (white, green, blue, brown.....). We visit live volcanos and see some flamingos! We lunch in the middle of a group of lamas. the last night is spent at a salt hotel right beside the big Salar...The whole hotlel is built of salt: walls, beds, table, chairs and is really warm. Because of the high altitude we have been freezing at night! We get our first shower in 3 days (how amazing). The family dine with us for the first time. We have good food and wine and we all get tipsy (we blame the high altitude- allows for a cheap drunk). We bought a doll for the baby girl and give it to her as her xmas present. She is so adorable and becomes our little mascot! We even have a xmas tree which some French guys brought. We end up having a real laugh. So weird to be sepnding xmas like this but everyone on the trip are so cool!

Xmas day! We all sleep in and wake up at 5am (!!!!!). Nearly miss the sunrise at the Salar. We knew the Salar would be vast but nothing prepares us for what we see. It is glistening white and you see nothing but white anywhere. We end up having a white xmas after all as it looks like snow! We manage to see the sunrise- although it is cloudy it is beautiful. We climb a mountain which is on an island and get a fabulous view of the Salar. Then we drive for miles and nothing but white. When we stop we take these really cool pictures which fool the eye because there is no sense of relativity on the Salar. Javier on top of everything else is a great photographer...

Karolina at 6am...
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Last stop is at a village about half an hour from Uyuni (where our journey ends) where we have lunch at another salt hotel. We arrive in Uyuni which most be the worst place on earth at 2 and all that is left before we say our goodbyes is to find a place to take out money to pay for the trip- there is no ATM in Tupiza and all the banks were closed so we were told that we could pay in Uyuni. Big mistake. There is only one ATM in Uyuni which was broke and all the banks were closed and noone in town although advertising they had Visa would take it. We spent about 4 hours running around the town like mad trying to get money while our guides had to wait. They were as knackered as we were but they had to drive for another 10 hours to get back! Eventually got money as we borrowed it from our Dutch bank but we were so pissed off and tired and were dying to get out of Uyuni. So eventually said our goodbyes- we all were so sad to see our guides leave. They were such amazing people and we will never forget them!

So xmas was so different but we are delighted we did it. We saw unforgettable stuff and met such nice people. AND we got a white xmas:-).

All that was left now was to get to Sucre....only 8 hours away on the worst roads ever! We decided to stop off in Potosi with Madeleine for the night and leave for Sucre the next day instead. Bus journey was the most bizzare expereince ever. We all sat at the very back of the bus with Martin in the middle seat. Not only were the roads so bad (luckily it was dark so we could not see how dangerous it really was) but Martin sat beside a very friendly but hammered Bolivian guy with whom he got to practise his Spanish. The guy eventually feel asleep. Only problem was that he keept on lying all over Martin and kept on weeing on himself. In front of him in the alley there was a young girl sitting on the ground using Martin´s legs as a head rest. This would have been ok if it wasn´t that she kept on sniffing glue with her like 5 year old brother and then vomitted and got a nosebleed all over. Hearbreaking stuff! It must be the worst experince ever but so eye opening and would not like to swap that experience for anything. Despite this we were happy to arrive in Potosi- although it was in the middle of the night. None of us had slept a wink and crashed at the hostel!

Posted by kmandmc 09:09 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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